How the NBA made sports work when no one else did

How the NBA made sports work when no one else did

When COVID-19 halted all professional sports, the National Basketball Association rose to the occasion to bring basketball back. 

When the NBA teams headed off to the NBA Bubble in Orlando, Florida, a lot of confusion and doubts surrounded the proposed “Bubble.” However, the NBA has seamlessly extinguished the doubt.

On July 13, two players tested positive. The last round of testing conducted on Aug. 12 revealed for the fifth consecutive week that zero players tested positive for COVID-19, a figure that no other professional sports league has come close to.

So the question is, how has the NBA been so successful in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and allowing the season to continue on without hiccups? The answer is through highly complex and scientific measures that are able to stop COVID-19 in its tracks.

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The NBA has done a fantastic job of simply wearing masks, social distancing off the court, washing hands and using sanitation to ensure the safety of the players. The league has followed CDC guidelines to a T.

When a player leaves the bubble for various reasons, they are required to quarantine for a certain amount of days determined by the league depending on length of possible exposure, and they are tested daily until deemed safe to return to play.

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson had to quarantine for four days after he left the bubble for a family matter. Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams had to quarantine for 10 days following his return to the bubble after a friend’s funeral. 

By not sneaking out of the bubble, not sneaking people into the bubble, wearing masks, washing hands and taking the safety protocols seriously, the NBA has made the bubble work — and it is not difficult to do.

With the success of the bubble, it makes one wonder if college sports can do this to get their seasons going? Hypothetically, the bubble can always be done. Unfortunately, it is unlikely a college bubble system would work.

In order for colleges to “bubble,” each conference would have to find a neutral site for respective teams to compete in. This would be tough because the neutral sites would most likely be on college campuses.

“By not sneaking out of the bubble, not sneaking people into the bubble, wearing masks, washing hands and taking the safety protocols seriously, the NBA has made the bubble work — and it is not difficult to do.”

As the world has seen, college campuses are generally not taking COVID-19 seriously and are continuing in-person operations to some degree, which will most likely result in a lot of quarantines and eventual shutdowns. Testing would have to be similar to the NBA where teams would be tested daily, and that can be expensive for universities.

Security would have to increase in order to keep team personnel from leaving and non-team personnel from entering the bubble, whether that is at a dorm hall or somewhere else on campus. Athletes would likely have to take all online courses, which would not be hard because many courses are online already for most universities. 

It would be tough to ask student-athletes, coaches and other team personnel to step away from their friends and family in order to play their sport. The bubble idea obviously works, but it is hard to emulate the NBA because there is so much to its plan. The reason it has worked for the NBA is that everyone has taken it as seriously as possible. As we have learned from the MLB — mainly the St. Louis Cardinals — it is tough to ask people to follow protocols. 

While the coronavirus has been disastrous for the sports world, the NBA has risen to the occasion thanks to the bubble.

Tyler Meguire can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @TMeguire.

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